After a tense parliamentary session, Joint Opposition’s parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardane was suspended from attending parliamentary sessions for one week following a vote in the House.
Parliament ran into turmoil after Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled that the National Freedom Front (NFF) of MP Wimal Weerawansa could not be recognised as a separate group in the House because the party contested the election only on the ticket of the UPFA.
Mr. Gunawardane rose on his feet against this ruling, leading to a tense situation in the House. Mr. Weerawansa, along with MP Padma Udayasantha Gunasekara, rushed in to the Well of the House against the Speaker’s announcement.
The Speaker ordered them to return to their seats, but tension persisted compelling him to suspend sittings. Though the House resumed business again, tension broke out. Mr. Gunawardane and others started demonstrating against the decision. Eventually, the Speaker, in conformity with powers vested with him under Standing Order 74(I), ordered Mr. Gunawardane to leave the House. At this moment, he suspended the sittings for the second time, and for the first time, he called on the police and the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove Mr. Gunawardane.
There was turmoil in the House as Ministers Sarath Amunugama and others were seen confronting Mr Gunawardane.
When the House resumed business for the third time, the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella moved a motion to suspend Mr. Gunawardane. The motion was passed with 85 votes to 22. The main Opposition TNA also voted for it along with the government members while the JVP abstained. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)